The nation has been recovering from the Bush recession at a sluggish pace and the middle class, the backbone of a healthy economy, has continued to shrink and lose buying power keeping the recovery moving forward at a snail’s pace. While Republicans point the finger at President Obama, insisting that it is his policies which are impeding the progress of the recovery, statistics tell a far different story, instead suggesting that the finger should be pointing at Congressional Republicans and their supporters in corporate America.
During the recession the nation lost approximately 8.7 million jobs which have all been regained in the recovery, with jobs growing at a rate of more than 200,000 per month for six straight months. Yet people are still struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table — even as Wall Street and corporations thrive.
The reason for this is simple; the jobs that were lost were primarily in construction and manufacturing while the jobs that have replaced them are primarily in the service and other lower paying sectors.
At the onset of the recession the average annual earnings of a worker in the U.S. was $61,637 according to a report from the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) which represents cities with a population greater than 30,000. At this point in the recovery, the average is $47,171, 23 percent lower and representing a loss to the economy of $93 billion per year.
Although the lost jobs have been replaced wages have remained flat, in July wages were up only one cent over June and only 2 percent over what they were in 2009 so workers are making essentially the same wages that they were earning in 2009 when we first began to climb out of the recession.
As Congress refuses to raise the minimum wage more and more workers are forced into low paying jobs and corporations are allowed to lower the wages they offer to workers because they have no choice but to accept a lower paying job in order to survive.
The report also found that in most metropolitan areas of the country, where living costs are the highest, 73 percent of workers are earning only $35,000.
Until the American worker regains the earning power he or she had before the recession, the entire economy will continue to stagnate. As we all know, contrary to what the Republicans have been telling us for a very long time now, economies do not trickle down — a healthy economy trickles up from a strong middle class and this country is fast losing that much-needed collective.